So, What Kinda Game We Are Playing?

Malcadon's picture
Malcadon
October 5, 2013 - 4:42am
It seems we are facing a hiccup with the ship rule as presented in Knight Hawks. They present some cool ships with that realistic deck arrangement and momentum-based thrust, but they seem to be ether distracting us form how unrealistic the system is, or setting-up a false (or unnecessary) senses of realism in an otherwise cinematic-styled game.

Star Frontiers is not one harmonious game, but a set of games that maintain some core elements (the races, Pan-Galactic, the UPF, etc.), but seem to go into a tangent with most things. Alien Worlds was noted for striving for realism, but its not possible to know without more info. Alpha Dawn was setup to be cinematic, with the way characters take hits - taking HP damage instead of injuries - and the spaceships have a typical Hollywood deck arrangement. Originally, the game was not going to have ship-battle rules for the sake of character-based actions, but people really wanted to blow-up spaceships. Knight Hawks did try to add some degree of realism - to the point of retroactively changing the way ship are presented - but as noted, it fell short. And Zebulon's Guide... well... Despite the fact that it was a mess to begin with, it was in noways striving for any kind of realism. Although they wanted to avoid anything that felt too "magical", a playtest group totally lost their collective balls and insisted on there being an instant escape in case they get marooned on some deserted planet - thus the teleporter.

What I'm getting at is, are we playing a cinematic game were physics take a backseat for the sake of outrageous adventure, or do we play a gritty game that tries to ground itself in what is possible, but with enough sci-fi phlebotinum to make the unrealistic stuff possible, or something in-between? I can picture a Star Frontiers that plays out like a '70s space adventure akin to Star Wars, Buck Rogers and Battlestar Galactica, were characters get shot at, but seldom get hit or take any real damage, as well as space fighters flying through space like actual jet fighter. On the other hand, I can also picture a Star Frontiers that is grounded in hard science, were space travel is a way more complicated and time-consuming, and even the toughest characters can die outright from a single shot to the head. Think 2001: A Space Odyssey and Alien. Yes, they may not be what you find in the rulebooks or setting info, but not everyone plays by the book.

So going beyond the constrains of published canons and rules, what would you guys find the most idealistic way of playing Star Frontiers?
Comments:

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
October 5, 2013 - 6:50am
Personally, I don't think physics has to take a back seat to outrageous adventure, except maybe in spaceship combat.  And even there, I'm willing to live with MR which makes the cinematic aspect of it possible, just for the sake of fun.  Although I think real world physics combat rules are fun as well, just in a different way, as it makes the task more challenging and I like that.

I definitely lean more toward realism but I don't think that preculdes a cinematic style play.  That's really up to the players.  I agree that the combat system lends itself more to this with the relatively high hit point to weapon damage ratio.

And I like interstellar travel to be difficult.  Not so much from a "realism" perspective, although that's a bonus, but rather for setting reasons.  If its hard to get between planets, then they are more isolated and you have more of a feeling of being on a frontier, which is what I always felt (and want) the flavor of the game to be.

On a side note, can someone point me to the reference in Zeb's Guide to the teleporter?  I don't remember ever reading that when I read through the rules (granted that was 20 years ago) and a quick scan through the book doesn't seem to show it standing out anywhere.  I've heard people make reference to it, usually calling it bap-bins, but I can't seem to find it.
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iggy's picture
iggy
October 5, 2013 - 9:33am
I aim for a more realistic game with a 1950's space opera feel.  I strive to keep tbe frontier a frontier by keeping the government and space travel at  level that is developing.  I avoid a "globalization" of the frontier.  I do not believe that technology has to constantly advance at an ever increasing rate as we have experienced in the past 180 years.  History documents multiple times when technology plateaued for one reason or another.  I let SF be a game where exploration and expansion are the driving motivations of beings where they are plateaued in some technology development but the social demands of starting anew and forced to devote their inovative efforts in areas they need that they would never have if they had stayed with the home worlds.  Some examples of these efforts are terraforming, subspace communications, and inter-species ergonomics. 
-iggy

jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 5, 2013 - 12:13pm
The teleporter is the Bap Bin.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
October 5, 2013 - 12:37pm
Yes, but where is it in the book?  i.e. page reference because I can't seem to find it.
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jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 5, 2013 - 4:57pm
TerlObar wrote:
Yes, but where is it in the book?  i.e. page reference because I can't seem to find it.


1. Its alluded to first in the fiction in the book where the yazirian enforcer is talking to the ifshnit trader and then purchases an omega bolt

2. then its discussed more concretely in the skill description "Matter Transferal Devices" [I have a problem with this as on one dice roll a a character can be irretrevably killed with no save- not good and perhaps not fair to the Player that loses his character in this matter]

3. It doesn't actually appear in the equipment list and I haven't combed the book deeper but these are probably the only references to it. Note to Terl Obar, when in doubt check the skill descriptions ;)

Edit: it certainly has the feel of something that was added as an afterthought and not a intregral part of the setting but for all that I dont have a problem with it. I like the requisit of a bap bin at point of origin and point of destination which limits it nicely. I like the excessive cost to use it in an energy based economy which is another limit.

There have been some real world experiments where power or rather light beams have been beamed so I roll with this even if its a little Star Trek-ish. I like to enforce other limits on it: some bins are strickly for cargo and no living beings. Early on in this tech the beam/energy was transfered via physical connection (cable, wire whatever) but latter it could be done by truly beamed energy from an emmitter to a reciver. This would allow for troop drop platforms that could be dropped en mass from orbit with no crew and those that go through to the ground would then be used to transport troops- the idea would be to reduce casualties during a hostile drop.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

iggy's picture
iggy
October 5, 2013 - 7:54pm
jedion357 wrote:
2. then its discussed more concretely in the skill description "Matter Transferal Devices" [I have a problem with this as on one dice roll a a character can be irretrevably killed with no save- not good and perhaps not fair to the Player that loses his character in this matter]
... <snip> ...
This would allow for troop drop platforms that could be dropped en mass from orbit with no crew and those that go through to the ground would then be used to transport troops- the idea would be to reduce casualties during a hostile drop.

I noticed you said reduce casualties because some troops will randomly end up as mush or vapor on the receiving end.  Great way to randomly loose essential team members.

Dear Mr/Mrs/It Dralasite,

We are sad to inform you that your offspring was killed in a bap bin excersize.  He rematerialized on the receiving pad as a marshmellow.

Sincerly,

Commander Yazirian


I ignore the bap bins in my campaing.  They do not exist.
-iggy

Malcadon's picture
Malcadon
October 6, 2013 - 4:15am
I asked because I notice a hiccup with the game that seems to go beyond the attempt at realism. I think the real question I mean to ask is "What do we really want out of the game?"

The AD rules are OK, but the skill system is a bit messy and rather limiting. The setting is generic enough to be played with nearly sci-fi RPG. The setting is noted as a "Frontier" but all the worlds feel too close together with a general lack of "frontier worlds" (backward colonies on the edge of known space). I can see room for great expansion, where the system what where printed are just "core worlds" in a sea of not just countless "unexplored worlds", but also ever-expanding "frontier worlds".

Rule-wise, KH is really fragmented by the counter/miniature combat rules to where designing a spaceship is needlessly complicated to the point of it not being all that fun. Also, the weird nature of ship combat makes it only viable for Fighter Pilots (if they don't mind being completely defenseless after a few shots) or Assault Scout crew (the crew-size seem to be the right match for a PC group). Otherwise, RPGs seem to work best in co-op play, were everyone are active players - not just the ones who can run a ship. Maybe the game should have been less about the tactical elements (keeping it minimal), and be more about how the crew dealt with boarding-action and damage-control. Setting-wise, KH makes no sense with a number of things (like fleet-size, lack of work shifts, insane speeds that would crush a Super Saiyan, just to name a few), or even contradicts previously established stuff like the deck arrangement, time regarding space Jumps, etc. I know I am really transfixed by the topic of deck arrangement and realism, which were the things that got me hooked to the game in the first place. I am coming to question the need for momentum-based gravity, and considering artificial gravity generators. With AGGs, crewmen can operate freely at high-speeds, and ships would be free to have any kind of orientation. Even the odd turning rules can explained-away by a fluke with the gravity generators (aka phlebotinum).

And as for the worms, do we like them as an enemy known as the Sathar, or as a Fifth Beatle known as the S'sessu? For some reason, I cant see them sharing the same setting.

jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 6, 2013 - 5:23am
@ Malcadon

RE:

AD rules (and by this I'll focus on skills) at this point you do have options- 1. Zebs with was too nit picky or the ultra nit picky SF2000 which is Zebs skills on steroids and i consider this to be one extreme end of the spectrum and then classic AD with is the other end of the spectrum. In the middle is add on fan stuff that simply adds a New PSA (artist or agent) to the classic AD skills (call this AD+) or the Skilled Frontier article (which while not perfect is a nice middle ground between the extremes)

KH's and tactical elements of the forced mating of RPG and board game: your comments are quite correct but I would point out that 30 years ago games like Star Fleet Battles and Car Wars were immensely popular and we can perhaps not begrudge the fact that TSR did this. From a strictly RPG enthusiast point of view you could begrudge it but I know that I was a huge enthusiast of tactical vehicle combat games and while KHs did not match in my esteme SFB or Car Wars it was the only game I owned that let me transition from RPG to tactical encounters- something Car Wars was inadequet for and SFB was useless for. I like tactical encounters because they are about choices and trade off. I hate D&D 3.5 combat for the tendancy to line up character and play whak-a-mole till something breaks. Frankly tactical encounters are, at this point, to closely intertwined with Star Frontiers that it would be impossible or difficult to divorce them from the game. There are strategies for handling star ship combat in a more abstract manner better suited to full PC party involvement. the old Star Trek RPG with the Shatner/Nimoy Kirk and Spock on the cover of the box had a chapter for this which was very general and applicable to any system and Stars Without Number does this as well- in fact SwoN actually move more in a RPG direction than in a tactical direction.

What I would like to see for the future of SF
1. ironed out skills along the lines of Skilled Frontier which deals with the fact that some actions are more difficult than others. Subskills had skill checks that were all over the map and had to be looked up for the skill check to be made Skilled Frontier has simple method of 1/2 ability + 10%/level which lets you not even consult the character sheet to make a skill check (this is a major plus) but it doesn't account for the fact that basic first aid and re attaching a limb are tasks with are at different levels of difficulty. I think having system of task modifiers for Trivial +100, average +0, hard -20, and difficult -40; much like those used in the Role Master family of rules would work well because a referee is likely to remember/memorize those numbers and they can be applied to skill checks on the fly. If you look at the combat rules and the exisiting AD skill rules you actually have these sort of skill modifiers: -20 for alien equipment, -20 for target defending etc. so adding difficulty modifiers is not a major change to the system.

2. Less wonky vehcile combat system perhaps something like the SwoN's Star ship build system with possibility for abstract or tactical vehicle combat.

3. same for star ship combat and systems

4. I dont think we need AGGs and horizontal decks. Vertical decks set SF apart and I think this should be preserved. that is not to say that we should not adress issues of high g maneuvers and momentum. I think the game system already has that in the form of the inertia screen which compensates for and minimizes the effects of inertia and mass and a different application of the same principles of physics that allow the inertia screen to work could be used on star ships during high g and combat maneuvers as a safety feature. if fact the "inertia net" system for a deck could go down and referees could enforce penalties for characters not strapped into an acceleration couch on that deck during high g and combat maneuvers based on the ammount of ADF and MR being used (I say ADF and MR here as reference to the concepts of accel/decel and maneuvering not as a commitment to keeping these systems) For example character moving around on a deck without a functioning inertia net has a -10 penalty to all action for every point of ADF about 1 (2 ADF= -10, 3ADF= -20 and so on.) mag shoes cut the penalty in half. Every point of MR individually used is a DEX or RS check to avoid being slammed against a bulkhead. if mor than one MR point is employed in a single maneuver during the std. KHs turn (10 minutes) then the ability check is at -X/ MR point and characters failing get slammed against a bulkhead for a suitable ammount of damage per MR point involved. (note since several MR points could be expended in a 10 minute turn a character could be required to make several checks and fail them all and be bashed back and forth against the walls of the ship for serious damage.

5. the setting is constrained and needs to be expanded- what exists now should be the core and 8 more regions of identical size should be added around it to be the new Frontier where established jump routes are fewer

6. I like the sathar, there are borg- implacable opponent, I've recently come by the Alternity module Click Clack and I've been studying the clicks which are also a borg like race- implacable. the Zuraquor as a sathar proxy are a borg race but they could be rehabbed to be less so. What the frontier could use is a Klingon or Romulan race. enemies that could be negotiated with, that would not require shoot on sight because they are honorable enough to keep a peace treaty or cease fire. As for the Sessu I dont like them but I have no objection to anyone keeping them around as an option they like.

EDIT: a decision would need to be addressed with expanding the Frontier, ARe we going to have the Star Wars Creature Cantina with a plethora of beings? or a more limited setting with few beings. the canon setting with all the optional stuff and modules has pushed us in the direction of star wars while by gut values the other extreme and yet I'm loath to cut out everything but the core four.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
October 6, 2013 - 7:25am
This doesn't really have much to do with the discussion but one of Malcadon's comments triggered one of my pet peeves.  He's not the only one who does it so I'm not picking on him (and maybe I just misread/misinterpreted what he wrote), I just need to say it.

< rant >
SPEED DOESN'T MATTER!!!

It is only accelerations that count.  You could be going 99% the speed of light and unless you were under some acceleration you will be floating in zero gee.  In North America, just sitting still, you're moving on the order of 600 mph eastward due to the rotation of the Earth.  The Earth is moving at 30 km/s (67,000 mph, or 1.8 hexes per turn on the board game map) around the sun.  The Sun is moving 250 km/s (560,000 mph, 15 KH hexes/turn) around the galactic center.  And the galaxy is approaching the Andromeda galaxy at a rate of 250 km/s as well.  And you don't feel a thing!  Other than the acceleration of Earth's gravity holding you in place.  There is an acceleration from the gravity of the sun that keeps the Earth in orbit but it is only ~0.006 m/s/s or ~1700 times less than the acceleration from the Earth's gravity.

In space, the speed of the ships is irrelevant to the forces felt by the passengers, it is only their acceleration that matters.  And yes, if you do the math, 5 ADF on the board game is 13.9 gees of accleration which will smash people.  However that fix is really, really simple.  Change the the hex size to 3600 km, and reduce the numbers (in km) for the wepaon ranges by the same 2.77777778 factor (but leave the hex ranges the same) and now 1 ADF = 1g.  Sustaining 5g for a longer period is much more believable.

< end rant >
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jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 6, 2013 - 7:27pm
Damn Skippy, I dont believe I've ever seen a rant from Terl Obar before!

That reminds me of something I considered before- as mentioned in the rant all those bodies have their own accelerations. So what is the 1% of light speed relative too?

It doesn't make sense that 1% of C is a magical number. Should we not consider adding a jump field generator to the game? Sure a jump field is just as magical as a hyper generator from other sci fi properties but it sounds more plausible in a magical sort of way.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
October 6, 2013 - 8:14pm
Relative to what is the question, isn't it?  That was always a weak point in the whole idea.  I always took it to be relative to the star in the system of departure.  Athough in truth, I never really worried about it.

But absolutely, a jump device would definitely be in the works for a rewrite.  Ditch 1% c and add the generator and tweak the mechanics to suit to get something similar.  My ideas here are fairly well known.  I did a short write up on this years ago and even wrote a book about it Wink.

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TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
October 6, 2013 - 8:25pm
I should also add that adding in a Jump DeviceTM of some sort allows making the distinction between starship and system ships much easier.  One has it and one doesn't.  It also makes the differentiation between the Class 1 & 2 and the Class 3 starship construction centers easier as the latter doesn't have the facilities to properly install, calibrate, and/or repair the Jump DeviceTM
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rattraveller's picture
rattraveller
October 6, 2013 - 8:34pm
If you get a chance see Gravity. Some interesting visuals on microgravity and things moving very fast past you and accelerations.
Sounds like a great job but where did you say we had to go?

iggy's picture
iggy
October 6, 2013 - 11:52pm
TerlObar wrote:
I did a short write up on this years ago and even wrote a book about it Wink.

I am not sure if I ever read this before, but it is similar to how I have tired to work out a system independent of 1%C just causing a jump.  I don't like the idea of small rocks accelerated to 1%C just disappearing into the void.

I had the dralasites discovering FTL travel when they were testing a new engine on a drone spaceship.  As the ship approached 1%C the new subspace communications transmitter they had devised to give them real time data from the experiment caused the jump when it sent a data packet at 1%C.  The drone jumped but not far as the transmission was only a burst.  The fail safes cut the engine when the jump happened because all the sensors gave unexpected weird data back to the engine controls.  Thus the drone now far out of the star system was able to burst back the next packet of data without putting the ship back into the void.  The dralasites then commanded the drone from remote to turn around and brought it back to the system.  They repeated the experiment as the drone was returning and got the drone back quickly thus discovering the void.

They next sent another drone to a nearby star.  Their communications with the second drone were detected by the vrusk who decoded the protocols and beamed a subspace message to the dralasites.  The two shared decades of communication while they perfected void jumping.  The vrusk risked the first jump with a pilot on board to another star.  Then the dralasites followed suit driven by the desire to meet their sub space friends.  The vrusk then proposed a star system to meet in and the first cultural exchange happened.  During this time the vrusk and dralasites both setup some outposts in other systems which then lead to trade.

The humans began experimenting with subspace communication at this time and detected the communications between the vrusk and dralasites.  The humans learned a lot about void science just by listening to the chatter between the vrusk and dralasites.  When they had decided that the vrusk and dralasites were not a threat and that they knew enough to engage in valid technical discussions where they didn't appear to be inferior, the humans started communications with the vrusk and dralasites.  The humans began void jumping to the nearest stars to their home system.  Then a courageous and independent group of scientists and explorers risked multiple jumps to reach the vrusk and dralasite rendezvous system.  It was during this series of jumps that they discovered Minator in the Theseus system.  After the meetings with the vrusk and dralasites the explorers returned by way of Theseus where many of the scientists stayed to make a colony in the frontier.

(From here on is brand new stuff that just came to me)

Upon returning home from their long voyage the explorers found their home in political unrest as governments competed to colonize nearby stars.  They learned that there had been battles over colony ownership in their absence so they swore secrecy of Theseus and the complete route discovered to reach what they had begun to call the frontier.  They were however welcomed home as heroes by their governments.  Too them however they come to think of themselves as independent of their governments.  Through creative lobbying and astute politicking of their captain they retained control of their ship and made upgrades.  They recruited replacement crew and scientific staff loyal to their independent views and were able to return to the frontier on a mission to bring back vrusk and dralasite ambassadors.

During the several years that the exploration ship was absent from Theseus returning home the human scientific outpost built relations with the vrusk and dralasites that had remained in the frontier explore after the last rendezvous prompted by the arrival of the humans.  There was no one else for these human colonists to turn to for help so far from home so friendships were born.  When the exploration ship returned to Theseus the only source of vrusk and dralasite ambassadors was from few explorers who had begun to use Theseus as a respite to their explorations.  The dralasite eagerly selected two they deemed best suited to be ambassadors.  The vrusk warily appointed one ambassador.  The exploration ship resupplied the makeshift colony making it permanent and disembarked many of the new scientists who wished to join the colony.

Months later when the exploration ship was approaching human space they detected distressing messages of all out war ravaging one of the colony worlds as homeworld governments battled over control of individual continents.  They decided that it would be better to stop first at an ice world science colony to assess the situation before heading to the homeworld.  The colonists informed them that not only was there open war on the colony world but that conflicts were erupting on the homeworld that threatened world war.  Before the explorers could make ready to chance a trip to the homeworld war broke out and soon escalated to surgical strikes on several world capitals creating a one world government that none of the exploration crew approved of.  The ice world science colony also found itself severed from the homeworld governments that had founded it.  The explorer remained at the ice world waiting for a change in the political climate.

Months later a refugee ship arrived from the homeworld seeking a place to hide, expecting to find only the science colony.  The ship contained may seeking to hide their skills and talents from the new world government which had turned to subduing all humans by force. The first colony war was over and the homeworld was turning its might on the few remaining colonies.  These colonies were hurriedly bracing for invasion.  This was the beginning of the explorers new missions, smuggling ships of refugees along their secret routes to the frontier.  As years passed the refugee ships stopped coming to the secret rendezvous and the civil wars of the homeworld engulfed her few colonies.  The ice world colony packed up and went to the frontier with the explorers never to return.
-iggy

jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 7, 2013 - 3:51am
I like the idea of drives being separate from a jump field generator. ships need thrust anyways and like Tom said the differentiation between system ship and star ship becomes real simple- whos got the jump capabiltiy because I can see plenty of possibilities where someone would want a system ship and not want to be so slow as the KHs chem drive. Thus you have a menu of drives you pick from and then you install the JFG if you want to leave the system.

Oh,yeah that was a good book too.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
October 7, 2013 - 7:09am
Nice back story iggy.  I had always envisioned the dralasites and vrusk getting together using STL tech or only interacting via subspace communications and the humans being the ones to develop the FTL technology and then arriving on the scene but I like your interpretataion as well.

The only thing that comes to mind is "why have there been no probes from Earth in the past 400 years?".  You said the route was secret to Theseus but there would have been records of at least the general direction the original group went, as you said, they came back as heros.  Did Earth destroy itself and the colonies or at least destroy civilization back to savagery?  Or did they somehow adopt a policy of strict isolation? In the intervening time, even if they weren't looking for the aliens but just genrally expanding outward, you would have expected them to stumble across the Frontier.

Of course I've always felt the timeline was a little stretched out personally and would compress it so maybe that's not as big of a deal or the "second contact" with Earth could be a campaign point.
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Malcadon's picture
Malcadon
October 7, 2013 - 9:16pm
TerlObar wrote:
Of course I've always felt the timeline was a little stretched out personally and would compress it so maybe that's not as big of a deal or the "second contact" with Earth could be a campaign point.

Cook did noted that finding the long lost home worlds for each of the core races was going to be the campaign end-point objective in Alien Worlds. Earth could have been the Human home world, or just some long-lost backwater colony the players find along the way - We'll never know! And yet, (badass sci-fi theme song kicks in) there may yet be brothers of man...who even now fight to survive—somewhere far, far away amongst the stars! (song playing at dramatic climax)

iggy's picture
iggy
October 7, 2013 - 10:47pm
@TerlObar
I have been asking myself the same questions today while working.  Then I called to my brother in Vegas while driving home.  Our conclusion is that to cross the vast expanse the explorers left beacons.  The beacons slept most of the time but when they receive a sub space key signal they wake up and respond so that the navigator can make his calculations.  After the jump they go back to sleep.  Once the ship reaches a beacon it then keys the next beacon and the jump navigation is repeated to reach the next beacon.  The beacons also serve as a communication chain to backup long distance sub space communications.

When the explorers left to meet the dralasites and vrusk and discover their path to them they dropped each beacon as they went.  They also built into the beacons a self destruct to be used if they discovered the dralasites and vrusk were hostile.  One special key from the explorers or the home world could cause the beacons to relay destruct messages to each other.  When the explorers came home and discovered their governments at war with each other and destroying the colonies and home world with atomic and biological weapons they decided that the governments at fault should not have access to the frontier.  The feared that they would continue their reckless ways into the frontier so they activated the self destruct of the beacons and informed the home world that the frontier was unsafe for exploration.  In actuality they only destroyed the beacon nearest the home world so that they could return and check on the home world by making a long jump at the last beacon.  The explorers returned many times privately but the home world situation only got worse.  Eventually they stopped returning as life in the frontier was better and they were old.  The new generations had no emotional ties to the home world to inspire them to brave the long journey.

Now the stuff I came up with today.  I hold to the AD humans not being from Earth statment.  I have used the term home world specifically so that those that do like to use Earth can easily drop it in.  We discussed the vrusk and dralasite history of separation but it is not as gelled as much as the humans.  What I am rationalizing now is the durations for all of these journeys.  Converting the timeline to Earth time from GST, there is 98.56 years from the time the dralasite vrusk first contact until the dralasites discover Fromeltar.  From the human vrusk first contact it is 46.54 years until Theseus is discovered.  There is just 11 months and a few days from the time the vrusk, dralasites and humans meet for the first time in the frontier until Theseus is discovered.  So the vrusk and dralasites could have made Fromeltar their rendezvous point and the humans were the ones late to the meet-up.  I interpret first contact to be sub space communication as there are so many years from first contact until the meet-up in the frontier.  Thus the vrusk and dralasites would have two years lead on the humans for their meet-up at Fromeltar.

Following the timeline the dralasites obviously stuck around in the frontier as well as the humans.  The vrusk on the other hand do not establish a colony in the frontier for another 75.75 Earth years.  I can propose the following from the conversations my brother and I had this afternoon.  The dralasites have more wander lust than the vrusk and will establish a colony just because they like the place.  The vrusk however are driven by racial and corporate practicality.  They do not do something that is not needed by the greater whole.  Our take on this is that the vrusk ventured to the frontier to meet the humans with the dralasites and a trusted third party using the dralasite turf to determine the usefulness of the humans to the vrusk as a whole.  The result was that humans were not needed or wanted because of the rumors that their ambassador brought back that the humans were genocidal to the point of self destruction.  Thus they left the frontier never to return as a sanctioned vrusk endeavor.  However their dirty little secret is that their society had become so power structured by corporate and hive politics that many vrusk who had learned of the frontier saw it as a way to break free from the oppression and make a new start where they could establish their own companies and hives.  Note I am using communal insect versions of hives here that have morphed into having royalty and dictators by the nature of power corrupting.  The system had become so entrenched that common vrusk could not ever hope to be more than what they were trained to do for the greater whole.  Those vrusk that decided to immigrate to the frontier were forced into a long one way voyage because their hives and corporations did not support them and they had to buy unreliable ships and navigation data from the few explorers who had visited the frontier.  Thus the vrusk home world and the population as a whole has chosen to forget the frontier vrusk as foolish nonconformists who are better off lost to the void.  The vrusk in the frontier have not taught their young any loyalty to the home world corporations and hives because they see them as oppressive and fear that they would annex them as subsidiaries on grounds of the need of the greater whole.  They view the home world vrusk as corporate fascists.

This leaves the dralasites who seem to have wanted to come to the frontier.  They seem to have some wander lust that drives them to spill out into the universe and establish colonies on a whim.  They appear to have a risk taking attitude that allows them to make long distance jumps into space without much worry about getting back.  My brother and I have many times attributed this to the dralasite reproductive process.  A world packed with too many dralasites makes it very hard to not bud.  This would be true even with advanced air purification and clothing to scrub and/or block dralasite reproductive spores, thus a need to spread out.  Also, their reproduction has forced them to study and become experts at reproduction control.  So we surmise that they make long distance voyages by packing a small number of dralasites into a ship and stowing a large quantity of spores with them to increase the gene pool.  When they get to the new colony a small number of dralasties can easily multiply into a strong and diverse population.

So, the vrusk and the dralasites begin talking first.  The dralasites want to meet the humans.  The vrusk and dralasites having meet earlier when dralasites reached a vrusk mining colony per the AD book.  The vrusk are apprehensive and don’t want to risk exposing the home world.  The dralasites really want to meet them so they debate it and decide that the small group that really want to do it should go half way there as a compromise to the vrusk.  The dralasites come and those that are satisfied with the experience go home, those that are still seeking to learn more find Fromeltar to their liking and decide to stick around.  The dralasites only end up with two colony systems in the frontier so it is plausible that dralasite homeworld didn’t see a need to go back again as they had already sent a viable set of dralasites and spores to this section of the universe.
-iggy

jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 8, 2013 - 5:18am
Good stuff iggy, a little different from mine but some intriguing ideas. I like the corporate facists angle of the vrusk home world.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 8, 2013 - 6:24am
@ iggy: I feel like the justification for a lost human home world is thin and would like to see it developed mere. Even something like a beacon went dead and the chain was nysteriously broken. Scout resulted in lost ships because two beacons were completely gone and it was left as a mystery rather than pour lives and money down the drain at a time when tge cost of building a ship was so high. 2.) Are you in favor of the theories surrounding the star exodus and destruction of yazira for the yazirians? 3. I'm not sure of the prolific reproduction theory of the dralasites as the are the least prolific colonizers in the Frontier - all of the other core four races havve colonized more worlds. 4. I like the corporat facist angle but doubt that dissenters and outcasts could establish all the colonies the vrusk have colonized with dodgie third rate ships. Perhaps its corporations and conglomerates that saw the writing on the wall and sold out their holdings and assets to out fit a ship and immigrate to the frontier. Since they wont fit the CF model and are removing themselves the CF vrusks are content to treat the Frontier as a sewer that the dump the "crap" into.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

iggy's picture
iggy
October 9, 2013 - 11:08pm
@ Jedion
I love the feedback.  Inspiration struck on Sunday night and the questions and feedback keep the fire burning.

1)  I agree that the human home world justification is thin.  I have battled with this for years to come up with a way to keep the home world at home and free from meddling with the frontier’s early and present development.  The accidental or mysterious loss of a couple of beacons is a good lead.  I was just pinning this on the explorer leadership taking things into their own hands, kinda like Cortez burning his ships.  This could be the big secret.  I need some way to make the home world from searching for their lost explorers.  Maybe I just do this by making the frontier so far away that the home world is busy with their local systems.  They can later start talking with other races nearer by than the vrusk and dralasites who in time just become more like pen pals.

Another idea that my brother and I discussed was that the expedition leader is a bit of an ego manic, building on the Cortez thing.  They go out as one ship the first time, then return but before he even gets back the scientists they left on Minotaur have sent a message back via the beacons and their sub space relay communications links to the expedition headquarters on the home world to go ahead and send the supply ships and second wave of explorers in multiple ships.  These are scientists that expect to come and stay, full fledged planned groups with everything from the average sanitation engineer to the zoologist.  They are even set down in the contract that each is sent as a couple with a requirement to have children once on Minotaur.  Our ego expedition leader arrives back at the home world a hero but dismayed to find out that the second colony mission is already gone and he is not being allowed to go back so that he can play to the media.  He really wants to go back and become the colony governor.  Now some specially selected and trained multinational committee of politicians have been sent to manage the colony.  He kicks around the home world playing the part of hero and pushing the program and fund raising for a few years while he fights behind the scenes to get control of the next colony wave to go back.  He succeeds in his effort and becomes the expedition leader.  His plan is to go back and wrestle control of the colony away from the political committee.  To facilitate this plan he has recruited some military personnel to be the first colony defense force.  These people are loyal to him.  Also on the way there he stops at two consecutive beacons to do ship maintenance which is actually pretence to secretly visit the beacons and sabotage them.  They are programmed to self destruct months after he has returned to Theseus and cause panic among the population about not being able to go home and get help from home.  This works to cause panic but does not work to get him installed as governor.  He finds that the scientist colonists are too independent minded and resourceful to need a savior and he is left again dejected by their lack of need for him.  Nor will his military friends support a coup.  He gets his satisfaction later when he gets to lead the expedition to found another human world colony and they allow him to be the first governor.

What I need to do with this now is sit down and do some population models to see how many colonists I need to seed each world with to get the AD level populations so that I can decide how many colony ships come from the home world and for how long and how many colonies can be spawned from another colony.

2)  I have grown to like and accept the Yazirian star exodus.  The history is well developed, different from what is expected, explains why yazirians have so many colony worlds, and why they are the terra forming experts and biological cloning experts.

3)  Good point!  I am describing conflicting points of the dralasite biology and this is being confused as rapid breeding.  The dralasites are longest lived of the races.  This allows for them to reproduce at a slower rate.  However, without birth control they are pretty much guaranteed to have a bud every time they pass through a female stage.  When I described dralasite reproduction in the Core Four project I was trying to detail this so that they have a similar number of offspring in their life time as a human generation.  Then I was trying to point out that the initial and only dralasite home world colony of Fromeltar is just a hand full of dralasites with a lot of spores in cryo.  This allowed them to travel a long distance without all the supply overhead for a large crew (air, water, food, etc.).  So Fromeltar starts from a small population and grows slower than the humans and yazirians.  Their second frontier world (Dramune) is colonized by dralasites from Fromeltar.

4)  I like your angle that vrusk corporations that could not get out from under the Giga-corps of the home world were the ones who immigrated to the frontier not individuals that scraped together the funds and rag tagged it to the frontier.  I would still have the navigation data that they purchased be dodgy and second hand.  I was also playing the corporate controls all angle because this could be a explanation of why vrusk have played so many pirate roles.  The idea of the corporations owning anything that their employees attain fits as a belief transferred to the vrusk pirates.  They hold on to bits and pieces of this home world thinking and use it as rationalization when they turn pirate.  Also funny that some of the free thinking vrusk in the frontier have basically returned to this thinking they eschewed from their home world.
-iggy

jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 10, 2013 - 5:28am
RE: dralasites- perhaps they have an internal clock that is rather slow in phasing them through the various sexes. Since its an internal biological rythem there is no real fear of overpopulation and with the drugs mentioned in AD they have a measure of control to regulate their sexual state for purposes of a carreer- a star ship enginee would not want to be budding while working around atomic engines. the biological clock could cycle kick in at an age of maturity then cycle runs for a number of years each cycle and the clock perhaps slows or shuts down (dralopause) latter in life.

RE: humanity. (NOTE: out of habbit i typed earth while composing this so just insert homeworld when you see it)The reality of extra solar colonization- I would expect that one of the earliest would be a one way trip- interstellar travel will not have been perfected as well as it is in the modern Frontier. so in a situation where its a large expedition on what is understood to be a one way trip you dont expect to maintain physical contact and the beacons would not even figure, though they may have been an early form of subspace rellay not so much about navigaiton as a telegraph pole but this is really fraught with problems llike anything could happen to them and you just wouldn't be able to go and do something about it so why waste resources? (Note I'm promoting my theory of human colonization in the Frontier from you timeline article).

Also you should account for the set up for Dark Side of The Moon module. It has lost colonist from Clarion being farmers and loosing much of their tech before a vrusk corporation discovers and colonizes the planet. (re-run of the Free World Rebellion? I think someone at TSR found bugs creepy and kept using the vrusk, clikks, and sathar, which were the things that skeeved them, as the impetus for writing adventures).  This is why I went with accident of interstellar travel spreads the colony fleet out over 3 systems at journey's end. I even worked in the "void" into that since missjumping is a common enough occurance. The fact that a miss jump is involve at a time when the void and the physics of void jumping are ill understood means that humanity in the Frontier has no idea where earth is and earth has no idea what happened to them. the lack of a radio message back to earth is omninous and perhaps the powers that be or public opinion on earth swings to "Why are we spending so much money to send people to their death in deep space when we have so many problems here at home". Note with this every referee can do with the home world what they will.

The Frontier humans do send out exploration ships, as suggested in the timeline, to look for earth but many expeditions return empty handed and many dont return at all, as the timeline suggests. Best thinking is that earth or home world is somewhere beyond the vast expanse. I go with that since humanity staked out the lower left of the map so home world could be on a number of trajectories to the south and south east of the Frontier map.

Only one ship arrived in Tristkar, thus those colonist didn't have enough to maintain a technological civilization and this explains them reverting to simple muscle powered farming for survival. a larger number of the colony fleet ships made it to Theseus and they established thriving industrial colongy. clarion had a few ships make it there but things were rough and survival demanded a strong hand at the wheel to ensure survival so I used that to explain the founding of the monarchy.

I feel like any story we tell should account for the Hvy population human worlds and the above kind of does that with the exception of Pale but we can explain that as a classic "Gold Rush" much like California saw huge influxes of people overnight so did Pale, with everyone dreaming of getting rich quick.

Locations of other Homeworlds for various reasons Yazira is to the south by southwest of the map and the vrusk and dralasite homeworlds work best I think to the north by northwest. the passage is very difficult to reach all of them.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

TerlObar's picture
TerlObar
October 10, 2013 - 8:28am
iggy wrote:

What I need to do with this now is sit down and do some population models to see how many colonists I need to seed each world with to get the AD level populations so that I can decide how many colony ships come from the home world and for how long and how many colonies can be spawned from another colony.

I have a spreadsheet to do these calculations and I did a big post on it a long time ago.  I think the original post was on the starfrontiers.org forums but I know I linked to it from here as well.  You should be able to do a search and find the posts.  I'll also try to find the spreadsheet and send you a copy.

Great stuff guys.  Keep it up.

Depending on the time scales selected, and the fact that iggy's backstory for the human's homeworld invovles war, you could allow for a collapse of civilization on the homeworld to have stalled them looking for the colonists.  Maybe a last ditch effort by the remaining resistance colonies lobs a "planet killer" asteroid/comet at the homeworld as a threat and for some reason no one is able to divert it and it actually connects, throwing them back to iron age technology levels.  Maybe something like:

1) colony's launch planet killer asteroid toward home world threatening to let it hit if not given independence but will divert if freedom is granted.
2) homeworld fleets attack colonies in overwhelming force to whipe them out.
3) Colony infrastructure is destroyed but they manage to destroy most of the attacking fleet as well.  In the process, control of the planet killer is lost and it's still on a collision course.
4) Frantic attempts are made to divert but there isn't time/resources to be successful
5) Impact.  Many survive and there are small pockets of technology but globalization of the society/economy means that civilization collapses.  A long "nuclear" winter sets in due to the impact and it's 20-30 years or more crops even begin to grow successfully.  In the end, humanity on the home worlds is in a feudal state and barely struggling to survive.  The colonies are gone, tech is gone but there are stories, and it will be hundreds of years before they turn their eyes to the colonization of space again.

(I wish I had more free time.  That sounds like a good book.)
Ad Astra Per Ardua!
Webmaster - The Star Frontiers Network & this site
Founding Editor - The Frontier Explorer Magazine
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iggy's picture
iggy
October 10, 2013 - 11:43am
@jedion, I need to go reread your timeline stuff.

@TerlObar, I have your sprradsheet and agree with it's conclusions that we could easily have any population we desire as stated in past threads.  I want to do a detailed build up of each world for story development.  I get story ideas by playing with the numbers. 
-iggy

jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 10, 2013 - 2:08pm
I think the best thing to do where the human home world is concerned is allow it to be a mystery. More than any of the others the story behind this home world should have maximum potential for individual referees to craft the story to suit their campaign. Whether they are a Earth/no Earth or  post apocalyptic or something else. the paragraph that says its a mystery can pose a question like: "whether it was war, ecological collapse....what is certain is that contact with the home world has been severed."

Leave for individual GMs to craft what happen to suit. This give you maximum acceptance. i beleive that the fate of the human home world is the one thing that people will be more likely to divide on as oppose to one of the alien species.
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

iggy's picture
iggy
October 10, 2013 - 3:18pm
Possibly we take a bunch of the best ideas and present them as many of the conspiracy theories that float amongst the communications networks of the frontier. 
-iggy

jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 10, 2013 - 4:11pm
iggy wrote:
Possibly we take a bunch of the best ideas and present them as many of the conspiracy theories that float amongst the communications networks of the frontier. 


Rattraveller just wrote a neat double article on the sathar and the megacorps. The first article was written from the perspective of a secretive conspiracy theorists that was his "manifesto" as to how the mega corps were sathar controlled [it was almost too good from that perspective and makes me wonder about him :) ] Then he wrote a second matching article was an examination of the role the mega corps take in fighting the sathar. [look for it in Frontier Explorer #6 on news stands soon] I think we could do with another conspiracy theory article for follow on issues. Perhaps even develop a cadre that is concerned with this issue? or two or three cadres even.

Like a vrusk cadre that is vrusk agents sent by the corporate facists of the vrusk homeworld who are starting to realize they may have made a mistake by writing off the Frontier. so this vrusk only cadre is here stealing technical data and spying on the Frontier and assessing military strength

Plus a couple of nut job human cadres. and the associated theories
I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!

rattraveller's picture
rattraveller
October 12, 2013 - 12:50pm
November is NaNoWriMo month but could include it in the word count. It is the research which would slow me done. Of course anyone could do a NaNoWriMo on the homeworlds.
Sounds like a great job but where did you say we had to go?

bossmoss's picture
bossmoss
October 15, 2013 - 11:27pm
Loving this stuff!  Nice stories. 

I also had the Vrusk & Dralasites meet each other first.  Is that in the books somewhere?  I have no idea where I got that from.  Humans met them both shortly afterwards, and then Yazirians showed up later.

To respond to the original post, I have no problem combining the cinematic & realistic aspects of the game.  My game is kind of a blend of Heinlein, Asimov and other classic hard science fiction, with a Battlestar Galactica, Space:1999, Buck Rogers (1980s) feel.  Sounds weird, but it has worked for years!

I try to keep things relatively realistic.  No cartoon physics! 

jedion357's picture
jedion357
October 16, 2013 - 4:42am
bossmoss wrote:
Loving this stuff!  Nice stories. 

I also had the Vrusk & Dralasites meet each other first.  Is that in the books somewhere?  I have no idea where I got that from.  Humans met them both shortly afterwards, and then Yazirians showed up later. 


Yes

AD Basic Rule book wrote:

The Humans made contact with an inventive race of insect-like creatures called Vrusk, who had developed limited space travel decades earlier. One of the vrusk mining colonies had already contacted another race, the shape-changing dralasites. The two races had been exchanging information for several years. The Vrusk and Dralasites were pleased to learn of another race. They sent a wealth of scientific information to the Humans. Using this new knowledge, the industrious Humans quickly developed interstellar spaceships.


See here for full text:
http://www.starfrontiers.us/node/7783

There are a couple of interesting implications in that History:

The vrusk are the "fathers" of interstellar flight, humans my have had space flight but they could not go interstellar before the vrusk transfered tech via subspace. The dralasites were found by the vrusk and later there is a statement that when the vrusk, dralasites and humans met in the Frontier they discovered the yazirians.

I might not be a dralasite, vrusk or yazirian but I do play one in Star Frontiers!